‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ star Shangela accused of rape, denies allegations

Written by on May 5, 2023

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Darius Jeremy “DJ” Pierce, best known for appearing on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (Shangela) and for starring in HBO’s “We’re Here,” has been accused of rape in a lawsuit filed this week, multiple news outlets are reporting.

The civil lawsuit, according to NBC News, was filed on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court and alleges that the reality TV personality and performer raped a production assistant (Daniel McGarrigle) during filming of the first season of “We’re Here.” McGarrigle is reportedly “seeking unspecified damages” from Pierce and Buckingham Television, the show’s production company.

McGarrigle claims that the alleged incident occurred following the first season (2020) wrap party for “We’re Here” in a hotel room in Monroe, Louisiana, People reports

New York Magazine's Vulture Festival 2022 - Day 2
Shangela speaks during New York Magazine’s Vulture Festival on Nov 13, 2022 at The Hollywood Roosevelt in Los Angeles. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images)

Earlier, Pierce allegedly bought and handed McGarrigle “five shots of alcohol and two mixed drinks” before asking the production assistant to come back to his hotel room, according to NBC News. Immediately after arriving at the hotel room, McGarrigle threw up in the bathroom. At that point, Pierce told the production assistant that he could rest in his bed until he “felt better.” 

The suit claims that McGarrigle awoke to Pierce attempting to assault him, “rubbing his penis against his buttocks, attempting to insert himself into his anus. Also, that McGarrigle woke to poppers, a liquid drug that gay men sometimes use before sexual intercourse, being poured on his face. McGarrigle would scream, “No!,” then tried to fight Pierce off. Pierce allegedly said, “I know you want it, and you’re going to take it.” 

The suit further states that McGarrigle did not immediately report the incident to production officials or authorities out of fear of losing his job. The plaintiff also “tried to maintain a cordial relationship with Pierce.” He resigned from his production assistant role in the summer of 2021.

Pierce denied the allegations in a statement furnished to People. “I can’t begin to explain how hurt and disgusted I am by these totally untrue allegations,” he said. “They are personally offensive and perpetuate damaging stereotypes that are harmful not only to me but also to my entire community.”

Pierce, who noted that an internal investigation into McGarrigle’s claims “previously concluded that they were completely without merit,” said the lawsuit is baseless. “This newest filing is nothing but an attempt to shake down both me and a well-regarded television company. No one should be fooled: it has no basis in fact or in law, and it will not succeed.”

A representative for Buckingham Television also issued a statement, NBC News reports, saying both the company and HBO, “take the safety and well-being of personnel on our shows very seriously, and Buckingham immediately launched an investigation,” which found “insufficient evidence” to support the allegations.

In addition to competing on Seasons 2 and 3 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Pierce competed on the third season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.” The entertainer made history last year on “Dancing with the Stars,” becoming the first drag queen to compete on the popular reality TV competition series, theGrio previously reported.

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